Protecting your neck from injuries and pain involves practicing good posture and body mechanics. This may mean correcting bad habits you have related to the way you hold and move your body.
Posture is the way you hold your body. For many of us, this means hunching over, thrusting the chin forward, and slouching the shoulders. But this kind of poor posture keeps muscles from properly supporting the neck and puts stress on muscles, disks, ligaments, and joints in your neck. As a result, injury and pain can occur.
The way you move and position your body during daily activities is called body mechanics. Good body mechanics help protect the neck. This means learning the right ways to stand, sit, and even sleep. So do what’s best for your neck and practice good body mechanics.
To protect your neck while standing: carry objects close to your body; keep your ears and shoulders in a line while standing or walking; to lower yourself, bend at the knees with a straight back; do this instead of looking down and reaching for objects; work at eye level. Don’t reach above your head or tilt your head back.
To protect your neck while sitting: set up your workstation so your monitor is at eye level. Also, use a document holder when viewing papers or books; keep your knees at or slightly below the level of your hips; sit up straight, with feet flat on the floor. If your feet don’t touch the floor, use a footrest; avoid sitting or driving for long periods. Take frequent breaks.
To protect your neck while sleeping: sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees, or on your side with a pillow between bent knees. This helps align the spine; avoid using pillows that are too high or too low. Instead, use a neck roll or pillow under your neck while you sleep to keep the neck straight; sleep on a mattress that supports you, with a pillow under your neck.